Masks

A customer exits Tops Friendly Markets while wearing a mask in accordance with the current state mitigation laws.

There were positive early reactions to Gov. Tom Wolf's announcement Tuesday that many COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted on Memorial Day.

Crawford County Commissioner Chairman Eric Henry thought Wolf's move was the right decision, and one especially needed by many local businesses.

"I think that with the vaccine program doing so well with the Meadville Medical Center, it was certainly a good direction for us to take," Henry said.

Capacity restrictions on bars, restaurants and other businesses, as well as indoor and outdoor event gathering limits, will go away on May 31.

The state's mask order will not be lifted until enough people get vaccinated, officials said.

Henry said several local business owners had expressed to him their concerns over how they would make it through another summer with restrictions in place, and believes the easing of most orders on the holiday will be a big help to those businesses.

Garth Valesky, owner of Valesky's Supermarket in downtown Meadville, expressed similar sentiments.

"Well, I think it's going to be welcomed by people in our area," he said. "People I talk to are pretty well fed up and so I think it will be welcomed."

Valesky believes fewer people have been wearing masks as of late. He also said the move would provide a bump to area restaurants, one he thinks they need.

Laura Mannino, operator/owner of Mannino's Italian Garden on Chestnut Street in Meadville, was more reserved in optimism, expressing some concern that while parts of the state might be ready to reopen, others may not.

"I think the governor is speaking for the state as a whole, but there's political pressure as well," she said.

Mannino said her restaurant would continue following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and keeping up intensive cleaning for as long as possible, even after the governor eases state orders.

Sean P. Ray can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at sray@meadvilletribune.com.

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